GREEN BAY, Wis. – Countless thousands of kids have dreamed of being the next Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
James Morgan is living that dream.
Morgan is one of the New York Jets’ backup quarterbacks. He grew up about a mile from Lambeau Field and was an all-state quarterback at Ashwaubenon High School. The Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2020 after a record-setting career at Florida International.
This week, Morgan was on the same field as Rodgers as the Green Bay Packers hosted the Jets for joint practices. On Saturday afternoon, Morgan will be throwing passes in Lambeau Field in the teams’ preseason matchup.
“I think back to two years ago when I was here watching practice in college and picturing being here someday,” Morgan said as the Jets’ buses idled outside the stadium following Thursday’s practice. “To be on the other side of that fence, it was awesome. It was a cool experience.”
At Ashwaubenon, Morgan wore No. 4 in honor of Brett Favre. At Florida International, he wore No. 12 in honor of Rodgers. Morgan and Rodgers talked between drills at Wednesday’s practice. Jets rookie starter Zach Wilson chided Morgan for being a nervous “fanboy.” Rodgers wasn’t aware that Morgan was from Ashwaubenon but enjoyed their conversation and posted a photo of the two to his Instagram account.
Picking Rodgers’ brain, however, wasn’t the highlight of the trip for Morgan.
“Honestly, it was just driving by Ashwaubenon, my old high school and everything that I’ve driven by a million times but as a part of the Jets,” he said. “It was really cool. It felt like I was going home a little bit. To actually be there and be practicing over there was awesome.”
Morgan, who is battling Josh Johnson and Mike White for a spot on the roster, didn’t take many live reps during the live periods this week. Instead, he stayed after to work on the things necessary to give him a chance for success on Saturday.
“That work ethic is what I want to hang my hat on,” he said. “Being able to go out and do stuff after or do stuff before is something so I feel comfortable going into the game. Like, ‘OK, I’ve repped this.’ Kobe Bryant said something like when he was taking a game-winning shot, it was something he hadn’t done a thousand times before. That’s the mentality that I like to do, too. Just kind of rep it so many times that it’s comfortable when the lights are on.”
It was quite a return home for Morgan, who signed some autographs before practice, spoke to his former coaches and was looking forward to a Thursday night dinner with family.
Morgan said his mom has about 35 tickets and is trying to get more. Like any football-loving kid who grew up cheering for the Packers, Morgan imagined what it’d be like to throw passes in the venerable stadium that he just happened to live by. On Saturday, that will be his reality.
“I always dreamed of that,” Morgan said. “Growing up, going to games and picturing yourself being there, it was definitely in a sense a dream come true for me. It’s going to be awesome on Saturday. I’m really excited to get going for that. It was just super-cool picturing it as I was growing up and being able to experience it is something that means a lot to me.”